Fans of The Essex Serpent will savor Perry’s deft and effortless character development. Melmoth, a modern-day gothic horror, opens when a haunted translator from Prague learns her friend’s secret, then disappears. The novel grapples with a beast: Melmoth, macabre, who stalks the guilty, compelling them to wander in shame or choose life. Is Melmoth real or abstract? A horror, a haunting metaphor, or both? - a.c.